12 Screen-less Gift Ideas Children will Love

With every passing year finding presents for your children that don’t involve some sort of attention-demanding tech becomes more and more difficult.

A new phone. A new video game. There’s always something else that, if you buy it, can ultimately create friction between you and your child when you are trying to support less screen time.

Then, there’s the problem of making this gift, which can be seen as a compromise for some kids, as fun. After all, what good is a screenless present, if your child isn’t going to use it?

So to make this holiday a little easier on all you parents, for this Tech Talk Tuesday, I’ve created a list of more than a dozen great gifts that can really help you make this holiday season a win for both you and your child!

Start here

 

Volleyball Wrap-Up

Our volleyball program had 24 participants this year. Our JV squad, which was composed of both middle school and high school players, played a full schedule against both JV and some Varsity level schools. Many of our JV players are playing for the first time, and it is always exciting to see how the team progresses over the season. We start playing games soon after practice starts, so it is a crash course for many of the players. Every single player improved, and that is always the goal for this team. “The JV team had a great season with many role players and newcomers. The girls started the season undefeated, and continued to gain experience together, and built skills that improved throughout the season. I’m proud of the effort put into the season and I am looking forward to next season” says JV Coach Ashton Jones.

Our Varsity squad saw many changes this year. We had a large group of Seniors that worked really hard to bring the team together and supported the younger players. We were very balanced this year. In the beginning, it was all about figuring out who could help us the most in each position. Most of the girls that were on the starting line up were starters for the first time. We were fortunate enough to get many games in before district, so we were ready to be competitive once we got going. Our district was mixed up this year with all levels playing together. We beat all 1A and 2A schools and split with a large 3A school. This was our fifth district title in consecutive years. We ended the regular season with a third place seeding for the state tournament. We won our first game in the tournament and that put us in the semi-finals versus Boerne Area Christian Homeschoolers. We lost that game in four sets and were placed in the consolation game. We won that game versus Texas Christian to end our season with a 19-13-1 record.

I feel the biggest impact on our Varsity team was the leadership provided by the Seniors. This was a very unselfish class that always supported the younger players and themselves. I am thankful for strong leaders and the younger group of players that really stood out and have a bright future ahead. They have big shoes to fill, but I am confident they are ready to step up to the challenge. We are all thankful for the fans that came out to all of our games, and the noise they made to help elevate our play.

It was a season to remember and I am already looking forward to next year!

Go Wildcats!
Coach Amanda

Open House Programs

Mark your calendar and plan to attend our upcoming Open House Programs. They are grouped by level:

The High School Program will be held at 7814 Bobbitt, 77055. All other programs are at the main campus, 1321 Wirt Road.

WOODS MIDDLE SCHOOL: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2018 at 7 PM
The faculty of Woods Middle School will present a program to discuss and demonstrate the ways that Montessori philosophy impacts and promotes love of learning in 7th and 8th grade students.

WOODS HIGH SCHOOL: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2018 at 7 PM
Learn about College Prep curriculum in the Montessori environment. The Woods High School faculty and students discuss how Montessori education tenets and fundamentals apply to the older student.

UPPER ELEMENTARY: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2018 at 7 PM
In this evening event, the focus is on the Woods Upper Elementary Class. Faculty will discuss Montessori principles and educational experiences for grades 4, 5, 6.

LOWER ELEMENTARY: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2018 at 7 PM
See Montessori cross-age instruction in action for students in the first, second and third grades. After Pre-K and Kindergarten, children are ready for their step into a lifetime of learning.

EARLY CHILDHOOD & KINDERGARTEN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2019 at 7 PM
The very foundation of Montessori education: you will observe how the fundamentals and specific lessons and materials of the Montessori system develop a child’s intellect from the earliest ages.

Please call 713-686-8811 for more information.

SCREEN AGERS – Growing Up in the Digital Age

PARENT GUIDE

Having weekly, short, calm conversations with your family about tech is so important. Tech Talk Tuesday (TTT), our weekly blog, offers you tools and tips for discussions. Families tell us it’s making a huge difference. Visit our website www.screen ersmovie.com/tech-talk-tuesdays/  to try one. It’s never too late to start a conversation about technology but often doing it in baby steps is more effective. —Delaney Ruston, MD. filmmaker of Screenagers

4 Basic rules to consider— (go to www.screenagers.movie.com to find ways to enforce rules)

  1. No screens in bedrooms when kids and teens go to sleep (for younger kids keep screens out completely). Fact: 75% teens get inadequte sleep. The presence of devices disrupts sleep.
  2. Set time goals for studying without multitasking and then. also, take tech breaks. Fact: Multitasking is linked to less retention and poorer academic outcomes.
  3. Eat family meals without devices. Fact: Face—to—face conversations improve mood and empathy.
  4. Put phones and devices away in the car. Fact: More than half of kids report seeing their parents text while driving.

3 Tips to help your child build self-control

  1. Science shows that positive rewards work better than punishment. For example, if you observe your child focused while doing their homework without their device. praise them.
  2. Build times when tech is out of sight Self-control is hard, so decrease temptations.
  3. Use TTT to let your kids share with you about the reasons they like tech in their lives-the more they feel understood, the more they’ll work with you on tech limits.

Discussion questions

  • How much time do you think kids in the US spend looking at screens? (Kids spend an
    average of 6.5 hours a day on screens, not including classroom or homework.)
  • How much time do you think you spend each week on screen-related activities?
  • The film featured a study in which baby mice exposed to screen time developed fewer
    cells in the areas of learning and memory than non-exposed mice. 00 you think this is
    true for humans too?
  • Do you think violent video games desensillze people to violence?
  • What are some popular games that don’t involve violence?
  • Have you experienced people using screens to avoid face-to-face interactions? Do you
    ever make comments onllne that you wouldn’t make in person?

Resources at www.screenag_ersmovie.com

  • Screen Time Contracts–Tips and screen time contracts templates. including Tessa’s
    contract
  • Parenting Apps—Tools that automatically turn off tech at certain times
  • Digital Citizenship——Links to help teach this at home and in schools
  • Parenting Tips—Ongoing practical advice from our blog, TTT and more

School of the Woods hosts SCREENAGERS

On September 29, 2018 at 9 AM, School of the Woods hosted a screening of SCREENAGERS in the Waltrip High School Auditorium. This award winning film delves into family discussions and struggles over social media, video games, and academics; offering solutions to help children, and adolescents, navigate the digital world.

There was a large audience of parents, children (recommended for 4th grade and above), caregivers, friends, and teachers.

What a Difference a Year Makes

In August of 2017, the Woods High School property was a green meadow.

At the writing (August 2018) the Bobbitt Lane site is the home of the new two story high school and gymnasium. The new structure is now “weathered in” and interior finishing is underway.

Construction crews are on the site daily routing the HVAC, completing the external brick work, installing windows, and many other tasks.

Construction Progress, July 24, 2018

The Family That Reads . . How it helps everyone

Adapted from “Tips for family reading”, Houston Parent, October 1995.

There is nothing like reading together to build the bond between parent and child. Such reading can greatly improve the child’s achievements in school and in life. In fact, it will shape the child’s language and emotional develop-ment, self- esteem, social skills and creative expression. Also, reading to your child is fulfilling and fun.

Parents who have books at home and who read to their children have children who are better readers and high achievers academically.

A Commission of The National Institute of Education reported, The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”

The US Department of Education stated, “What parents do to help their children learn is more important to academic success than how well-off their family is.”

Creating a love for reading is the cornerstone of your child’s education that will last a lifetime. Most importantly, teach your child that reading is the window to every opportunity in life.

The exploration of shared spoken language, the reading of the world through dialogue, is a vehicle for bringing change into the world.

These points are considered “truths” among experts in the field:

  • Children who are read to learn to read more easily than those who are not.
  • Reading to children helps build their curiosity, imagination, attention span, vocabulary and language skills. It also helps improve their spelling and writing abilities, promotes listening comprehension and helps them to think and communicate better.
  • Children’s ability to comprehend what they read very much depends on the knowledge they already have, so the more they are read to the more knowledge they will have in store for use in future reading.
  • Reading is a good conversational tool, providing parents and children with the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings. The child grows emotionally and important family bonds are built.
  • Reading to your children lets them know that you value reading as an important activity in your life.

     

    Some ways to achieve these goals:

    • Establish a routine for reading aloud – a daily activity which will become a habit.
    • Be proactive: move your finger under the words as you read; let your child turn pages with you; take turns reading paragraphs or pages; interject comments, such as “what do you think will happen next?”; look at and talk about the illustrations.
    • Let your children see you reading your own books – i.e., be a role model. Talk to them about the things you read.
    • Develop a family library – keep lots of books, magazines and newspapers and take them when you travel; give children books as gifts.
    • There is no limit to the kinds of material to read – children’s books, biographies, science, adventure, even mail order catalogues. And make regular library trips so that your child becomes familiar with it and what it has to offer.

THE MONTESSORI ENVIRONMENT

by Dr. Betsy Coe

School of the Woods and Montessori methods support students’ development in four major ways.

The Mission Statement of School of the Woods says that the school integrates Montessori education with contemporary education methods to develop life-long learners who are competent, self-motivated, morally aware, and personally and socially responsible. Such people must also necessarily possess high self-esteem, and that is where our school and Montessori make a difference.

The four major ways that School of the Woods impacts the student’s development positively are these:

  1. It provides a safe environment for making academic mistakes
  2. It provides a safe environment for making social mistakes
  3. It uses constructive learning methods
  4. It utilizes non-stigmatizing grading methods

Learning from one’s mistakes is universally viewed as a positive sign of growth. When people make a mistake, realize its consequences, and problem-solve a solution, they grow. A person’s self-concept is the greatest indicator of life-long success.

This article will be presented in four parts over four issues of Inside the Woods.

PART 1: ACADEMIC MISTAKES
Education Reformer Theodore Sizer(1) wrote that our society is producing non-thinkers. In the quest for not making a mistake, students are encouraged to do memorization, the lowest level of learning, according to Bloom’s Taxonomy.(2)

It is less a risk to repeat memorized facts and be assured a good grade than to take the risk of divergent thinking, which may not yield the “right” answer — the student thereby risking his good grade. The student is asked to learn the right answer and this product becomes the educational goal.

What is different in a Montessori classroom? It is that the emphasis is on process in the learning and the product or the answer is a secondary goal. In every learning sequence, students spend much time in process – the interaction with materials, trial and error, trying out their thoughts, finally discovering the rules on their own.

After students have made the learning really theirs through process, then the product is emphasized. This is extremely important in today’s world where, it is said, 90% of what a child will need to know in his lifetime will be discovered in his lifetime. Thus, many of the answers or facts which are taught will be obsolete, and the process of learning how to learn will be the tool necessary for a successful life in the real world.

Another avenue that encourages students to profit by their mistakes is the interaction of the teacher as a coach. According to philosopher/educator Mortimer Adler, coaching is the feedback that a teacher can give when the teacher/student ratio is small. For instance, a student writes a paragraph; the teacher proofs it with the student, giving the student feedback for corrections. This consistent, positive interaction leads the student to grow to a higher level of writing – the mistakes are the avenues of growth instead of a negative experience.

In a Montessori classroom, the teacher/student ratio is low so that the teacher can coach the students. Dr. Montessori referred to the teacher as the directress, indicating that the goal is not to dispense knowledge or fill up an empty head, but to direct and coach students into their own knowledge.

Students who have guidance in their learning and constant positive interaction from the teacher, at whatever their academic level, have positive self- esteem. This finding has been supported in previous testing of School of the Woods students – more than 90% felt that they “were good in their schoolwork” on the self-concept test. This perception of themselves held, regardless of their academic level.

PART 2: SOCIAL MISTAKES
Research suggests that pro-social behavior is fostered in an atmosphere where students can interact with their peers without the teacher being the center of attention.

Students learn from receiving the immediate feedback of peers, trying out alternate strategies, and solving problems on their own.

This process can only happen in a classroom where students are allowed to talk during school hours, to work in large and small groups, to participate in peer teaching, to sit in different places in the room, and to solve their own problems. This classroom describes one that is student-centered versus one that is teacher- centered.

The Montessori classroom is a student-centered environ-ment. To give and experience feedback in different social situations, there are large group meetings every day, many small group lessons, and individual work periods. Students move around the room each day, working next to different peers. This allows them to experience lots of feedback. The classrooms have multi-age spans, which encourages peer teaching.

In receiving feedback, students are given the opportunity to experience the natural consequences of their behaviors. That is what encourages growth and being responsible for one’s actions. The teacher serves as a model and a guide for students to try out new behaviors.

Responsibility is another social skill that is supported in the School of the Woods environment. When students break or damage something, they must either repair it or replace it by working after school to earn the money. Even accidents are handled this way, not as a punishment but to learn responsibility for one’s actions. This learning must take place in everyone’s life – better now than when behind the wheel of a car or in later life when the consequences are much greater.

Students who feel control over their actions have a positive self-concept. School of the woods gives that opportunity to its students.

PART 3: TESTING IN THE MONTESSORI SCHOOLROOM
How does testing and grading affect the self-concept of students? According to much research, once students are identified as “poor” students by graded tests, they find it very difficult to change their images. One of the reasons poor students have trouble changing their images is that the skills for which they received bad grades have never been remedied. In addition, students may be expected to move on to the next higher skill which can’t possibly be understood if the previous sequential skills have not been mastered.

At School of the Woods, testing is viewed as a practical life skill needed in order to function in our world but not as an avenue to learning. The student is not “tested” to see if knowledge has been gained because the teacher has interacted with the student throughout the learning process and does not need that tool to evaluate progress.

But, the ability to take tests is a skill that is taught throughout the elementary and middle school curriculum. Pacing yourself, looking for key words, checking all possible answers, strategy of when to answer, etc., are specific skills taught so that students will be able to function in the world.

In the Montessori classroom, students master a specific skill before they move on, regardless of the timeframe required. There are no poor students, just students at many different levels.

Recent research indicates that during brain growth, the right as well as the left side of the brain must be active in order for the nerve tracts to receive an optimal coating of myelin.(3) Whole brain activity must include manipulative materials with opportunities for divergent and creative thinking, leading a person into formal thinking. The Montessori curriculum encourages the use of manipulative materials and open-ended activities at all levels. Open-ended activities encourage the student to engage in analysis, syntheses, and evaluation, which are right-brain activities. Since the abstract, objective left-brain activities are not our only goal, students can spend their time and energy in a variety of whole-brain activities.

PART 4: GRADING THE SCHOOL OF THE WOODS STUDENT
Grading students by means of an A-F scale began when schools found it necessary to keep track of large numbers of students. Teachers did not have time to write personal notes about students’ progress. A grade in the form of percentages then began to replace the personal progress report. Soon, the reliability and validity of grades began to be questioned because there was a wide difference in scores among different teachers on the same set of papers and because the same teacher scoring papers at different times was inconsistent.

This led to the one-right-answer objective test. With the use of the objective test came the decline of composition skills and critical thinking. This problem has yet to be solved, and the objective test is still in practice today.

At School of the Woods, students are not given letter or number grades before the ninth grade. The teacher writes a personal report about each student. Conferences with parents about the student’s progress are scheduled at least three times during the school year. Sometimes the student is invited to participate. A personal conference gives much more information to both parents and student than a percentage score because it can address strengths and weaknesses and a plan for future action can be a part of the assessment.

SUMMARY
In addition to educating the whole child in the most imaginative and most productive way, Montessori education methods maximize the child’s concept of his self-worth.

Assessment of the child’s progress discussed applies to grades through Middle School. Letter grades are given to Woods High School students to facilitate negotiations with colleges and universities.

____________________

(1) Sizer, Theodore, Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School, 1984.

(2) Bloom, Benjamin, The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, 1956.

(3) Myelin: a fatty protein forming a sheath around nerve fibers;myelin sheaths protect and insulate the nerve fiber and increase the rate of transmission of nerve impulses.